By Trevor Reichle
TOPEKA - It is hard for many people – especially those in states outside the Midwest - to imagine that Kansas has a variety of activists and volunteers championing LGBT causes in the state. One activist who has spent over a decade fighting on behalf of LGBT Kansans is Tom Witt.
Witt currently serves as the executive director for Equality Kansas, an organization that works for pro-LGBT causes and combats anti-LGBT measures in the Kansas state legislature. Witt, whose first big battle in the state was fighting the same-sex marriage ban that eventually passed in 2005, has remained in the state to introduce pro-LGBT legislation each session and counters various anti-LGBT bills as they have come up.
By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
KANSAS CITY - Kansas City is known for its barbeque, baseball, and jazz. But the city is also home to some of the most talented writers making their mark in the genre of lesbian fiction, or ‘LesFic.’ Authors Kris Bryant (Whirlwind Romance, Just Say Yes, Taste), Tara Wentz (Traffic Stop, Deception by Design), and C.L. Cattano (Cursed Hearts) are just a few of the local names churning out novels that will surely have readers staying up late to turn the pages.
Liberty Press spoke with the authors about the local LesFic writing community, their own writing styles, and upcoming books readers can look forward to gobbling up next.
Liberty Press: There seems to be a burgeoning community of lesbian fiction writers in the Midwest. How would you describe this community? Do you look to go to each other for guidance and support?
Kris Bryant (KB): We are a small, but fierce group of writers here in the Kansas City area. One of my best friends is K.B. Draper who is an indie writer. We actually became friends because of writing. We schedule monthly writing dates and attend several writing functions together including Golden Crown’s Literary Annual Convention and Women’s Week in Provincetown in Massachusetts. We’ve also done a few radio shows with Elizabeth Andersen, host of The Tenth Voice on KKFI. It’s nice to have another writer who gets the struggles and the rewards of writing. K.B. is very supportive of my writing and is one of my biggest fans, and I, hers.
Tara Wentz (TW): There is isn’t there? There are several publishing companies in this genre, but I like to think we are all in it for the same goal and that we support each other wholeheartedly. I know that here in Kansas City there is a group of us that do things together and work together. Kris Bryant and K.B. Draper are among those. The late Sandra Moran was a big influence for me as far as writing goes. She was always very encouraging. I also want to point out that it’s not just writing either. The support across the board has been fantastic. From the band Radial Red including local authors at some of their events to Elizabeth Andersen and 90.1 KKFI.
By Trevor Reichle
WICHITA - Given the current political climate, it is easy to imagine how many progressive organizations of all different types are mobilizing and gearing up for the fights they will have to endure in the future. This is especially true of young people, who have become more engaged in local and state politics than they have in quite some time.
As such, the Wichita State University Community Psychology Association (CPA) is hosting an event directed toward students who want to become more involved in local organizations that are aimed at enacting social change in the community.
WICHITA - Wichita Scottish Rite Signature Theatre presents the tragic love story, Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare’s timeless classic, Friday, Mar. 31 at 8pm-Sunday, April 2 at 7pm. General admission is $18, $14 and $10. The production will be held in the historic Wichita Scottish Rite Theatre. Phil Speary will direct and Bobbi Green is the stage manager.
Romeo & Juliet is one of the world’s most beloved romantic dramas. The WSR Signature Theatre production will set this classic tale of star-crossed lovers in the dark world of gothic fantasy. The young couple play out their forbidden relationship in a world of two fierce clans pitted against each other. How can their love survive?
WICHITA - On Saturday, April 8 The Center of Wichita and Wichita Pride will each have an entry in the annual Support Local Law Enforcement Community Parade. Members of the community can show their support for Wichita’s finest, the Wichita Police department and the LGBT participation by attending the parade. It starts at 10:30am at Central and Main. For more information visit /www.facebook.com/Support-Local-Law-Enforcement-Wichita-871561756226048/.
WICHITA—Wichita Festivals, Inc., producers of Riverfest and Autumn & Art, announced a new event that will debut in downtown Wichita this summer: Wichita Vortex Music Festival, with headliner Dwight Yoakam.
Scheduled for Aug. 4-5, the festival combines live music, Wichita pride and the rare chance to camp in the heart of the city at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers. The festival’s main stage will be located in the gated area between the Mid-America All-Indian Center and the Keeper of the Plains.
LOS ANGELES, CA - During the Grammy awards Feb. 12, the notoriously anti-LGBT restaurant chain Chick-fil-A debuted a new commercial featuring the voice and hit song, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now, of Grace Slick, a member of legendary rock bands Jefferson Airplane and Starship. To strike back at the restaurant’s anti-LGBT agenda, Slick is donating every dime she made from that ad to Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest and largest LGBT legal organization.
Chick-fil-A has a well-documented history of funding anti-LGBT organizations through their philanthropic foundation WinShape. In interviews, CEO Dan T. Cathy has critiqued LGBT rights supporters who “have the audacity to define marriage” and said they are bringing “God’s judgment” upon the nation.
NEW YORK, NY - MPress Records announced the release of award-winning singer, songwriter, producer and activist Rachael Sage’s new EP of protest songs, The Tide. The 5-track digital EP adds Sage’s voice and music to the current worldwide protests and public demonstrations, seeking justice for all in a turbulent sociopolitical landscape. All net proceeds will be donated to ArcLife.org (American Refugee Committee), one of the world’s leading international refugee assistance organizations.
By Grayson Barnes
WICHITA - A Man of No Importance saw its state and regional premier Feb. 17-19 at the Wichita Scottish Rite Signature Theatre. It won the 2003 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical and a 2003 GLAAD Media Award. The second collaboration for Terrence McNally (book), Stephen Flaherty (music), and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics), A Man of No Importance is based on the 1994 Albert Finney movie of the same name. Originally, it opened in September 2002, at the Lincoln Center in New York.
A Man of No Importance is set in Ireland in the 1960’s and focuses on the life of bus conductor Alfie Byrne. His life is mundane, except for his obsession with the works of Oscar Wilde. He also directs the amateur actors’ troupe at St. Imelda Parish. Alfie is of indeterminate age, but probably too old to be living with his sister. He has a service job and he is bookish. These are all qualities that make him the type of person who is easily overlooked, but Alfie shares his ‘Wilde’ passion with the passengers by reading the author’s works to them between the stops.
Attn: Dr. Robert Minor
I have lived nearly 73 years and during those years I have seen continuous abuse of power by those who claim power by virtue of their ambition, initiative, intelligence, family background, entrepreneurial impulses and talent. By whatever means and circumstances, they have risen to a place of political and economic leadership and that gave them power to make decisions affecting my life and the lives of millions when such leaders attained high political and administrative offices.
Perhaps the best that can be said is, with the qualifications already listed, they performed as expected and were received by some and criticized by others and maybe even outright rejected. When pushed, some of them were forced by law, evidence of their extra legal activities or at the very least morally and ethically culpable activities, they were pushed to resign or even indicted for actions violating oaths of office and the public trust automatically given to those who are leaders, no matter their political party.
The highest leadership positions in our nation are given to those who are successful economically and politically and have as their helpers like-minded people and party members. In America, it seems that we tolerate well a leadership that wields political and economic power; they use whatever dividends they can garner to offer the hoi polloi some like a piece of the American economic pie.
Capitalism trumps poverty and we value capitalism above “doing the right things” because we value doing the right things that lead us to get ahead and maintain and advance a lifestyle that is only enhanced by a bottom line that shows a profit. Sometimes the right things are overlooked and moral and ethical considerations become distant goals. Now, at almost every turn, technology supports our economic and political goals. Clearly, we want to dominate the international market and our position as a strong economic, political, and military power in our world. We have always been able to adjust “doing the right things” to coincide with our best interests as defined by our leaders and sometimes enacted in laws that seem to arise as the need to justify certain actions.
There is a lack of careful watchfulness that is the job of citizens of this great country. We have allowed for the foibles and have let go strong demands for moral and ethical standards that led to a bottom line that says to all who see it, we are going to “do the right things.”
Our esteemed past president General Dwight David Eisenhower, for whom our airport is named, warned, in a final address to the people of America, to paraphrase, we should, as citizens, jealously guard against an overzealous joining of the military industrial complex, already strongly linked and deeply influential in our national political and economic life. We have ignored Ike’s warning and subsequent presidents have yielded to the power of industry linked to military defense and offensive capabilities. Hence multibillion dollar aircraft carrier and other planes, ships, and weapon systems on the drawing board or already in production. We don’t know what is happening exactly and that goes to the citizen oversight that is a part of our responsibility. We cannot depend on the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch or the Judicial Branch to consider things only on the basis of “do the right things.” We must hold them accountable and we must insure that “power makes right” only when it is power to do the right things nationally and internationally.
We are currently faced with a political and administrative and even an economic leadership that proposes that the might of this country should be applied to building a billion dollar plus wall between our country and Mexico. More needed construction and repair of our infrastructure is bypassed and aid for educational purposes is also bypassed. The national will to do something reasonable related to immigration is replaced by activity that will lead to a barrier enforced by heavily armed guards and a surveillance system supported by a technology that could be used in ways we find reprehensible and far from any understanding of “doing the right things.”
I urge people to contact their senators and representatives and to make known that we reject billions for a wall while other more humane projects go begging. We also must react to presidential power to issue “executive orders” and “executive privilege” that bypasses congressional oversight and therefore bypasses the representative democracy that we value. With that power, the president can justify any action he wants to take and closing our border to immigration and targeting one or more groups of people in his “orders” is not why we elected him as president. He must be reminded that this is representative government and if the representative merely rubber stamp “okay” on his agenda, we must use the power to impeach and remove from high office those who do not accept their accountability or the moral and ethical demands to do the right things.
We forget that with power and privilege comes responsibility to use that power and privilege to be of help to our nation and to our world. The abuse of that power and the ugly nature of restrictive orders raises the question of racism and of a nationalism that can very easily be twisted so saying the “right things” can be laid aside. This should scare most Americans and make us consider mass protests as a response to such abuses of power.
William L. Ripley, Wichita